Greater Greater Washington

Capitol Hill may get a town square

Coming out of the escalator at Eastern Market, a visitor immediately arrives in the middle of a wide, open space filled with pretty much nothing. To get to most of the neighborhood, it's necessary to cross busy Pennsyvania Avenue to another wide, open mostly-empty plaza before reaching the wonderful neighborhood blocks beyond.


Eastern Market Metro Plaza, from Live Maps.

It wasn't supposed to be this wayL'Enfant intended a series of squares, some of which (like Stanton and Lincoln) became squares, while others (like Seward and this one) didn't. Now, the Capitol Hill Town Square project is considering alternatives. On the conservative end, we could simply landscape the existing triangles better:


Earlier(?) concept for the plaza from Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Inc.

Or, better yet, we could unify the green space, creating a central square that's actually square (well, rectangular) and routing traffic around, like at Stanton or Mount Vernon Squares. Of course, some people oppose the idea; after all, what works well in the northern half of the neighborhood would obviously be a disaster in the southern half.

There will be a community meeting, tentatively planned for September 24th, which I'll post on the calendar (in the right sidebar) when the time and place is announced. I'll be out of the country, missing not only this but Park(ing) Day and Car-Free Day, but I hope many residents of the Capitol Hill area will go speak up for a true town square.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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I'm sure it's probably cost prohibititive, but wouldn't it be the best of both worlds if Pa Ave. dove below a decked over square, like Conn. at DuPont circle, or Mass. at Thomas circle?

by Local on Jul 30, 2008 4:09 pm • linkreport

I live on the Hill, and would love to see a real square built at 8th and Pennsylvania. However, I agree it would through a wrench into many people's commuting patterns. Stanton Square is less of a problem because Massachusetts is less of a commuter route on the Hill - it has no bridge across the Anacostia. On the other hand, Pennsylvania Ave. is on of the main east-west routes out of downtown to the east.

by G-man on Jul 30, 2008 4:15 pm • linkreport

Putting Penn below would be the preferred design - but that's where the Metro is. Moving metro is not doable.

BTW, down at the Potomac Avenue Plaza they're doing the same thing. Rerouting traffic around a consolidated green space. I think that process is farther along.

by VC on Jul 30, 2008 4:16 pm • linkreport

This could be a lot of things... There is a lot of commercial, but it's not around the square, it is all along Penn Ave and 8th St. I don't know what the North/South border streets are zoned or what the East/West border streets are zoned, but those would be some determining factors as to whether it would be a good space/place. You could end up with something as bad as Mt. Vernon Square, once the traffic engineers get to it, or as nice as Rittenhouse Square, or something in-between like Lincoln.

The problem is that this would become a major focal point, and if it were to be solely a residential square, it could become a dead zone in the middle of Cap Hill.

Spiffing up the two triangle parks is not going to change much - Penn Ave is just too major and too wide a thoroughfare to make the triangles seem like spaces onto themselves. The triangles will simply be appendages to the road.

by MarkM on Jul 30, 2008 5:24 pm • linkreport

Why should a short tunnel be considered "cost prohibitive"??

Such is the best for everyone and is long over due- especially when we consider how urban areas lag behind in multi-layering with public space decades after it happens with private development- as if the latter should be all single story.

BTW- there were once plans for DC that included some more short tunnels; see

http://wwwsouthcapitolstreet.blogspot.com/2006/05/un-built-east-capitol-mall.html

The Feds have to begin getting serious about how they treat the Nation's Capital City!

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 30, 2008 5:46 pm • linkreport

The problem with the tunnel is that it would not be short. It would have to go deep enough to go under the existing Metro tunnel. In Dupont Circle the road tunnel is above the Metro -- imagine having to create a road tunnel as deep as the Dupont Metro. To have a reasonable grade on the road, it would have to start many many blocks before the square.

by Ken Jarboe on Jul 30, 2008 6:42 pm • linkreport

MarkM, the area around the square is both residential and commercial. The south side is completely commercial as is the west side that faces directly on 7th Street (if you count the Library as "commercial"). Directly behind the 7th Street side is residential. The north is a mix with townhouses in the north east portion, but with the old Hine school (set to be redeveloped) in the north west portion. The east side is again a mix, with condo (Grace Church) and offices in townhouses at 9th and Penn. That will be the trick for the poject -- how to come up with a design that works for both the residential and commericial uses around the site.

by Ken Jarboe on Jul 30, 2008 6:58 pm • linkreport

Right now, when firetrucks leave the fire station heading north on 8th Street and need to head east into the neighborhood, they do not try to make the sharp right turn on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. They cross the intersection depicted above and turn right on D Street SE, heading the wrong way on that one way street in responding to emergencies. They did not decide to do that on a whim. What does the DC FD say about these plans that would hinder emergency response from that fire station to points north on 8th Street?

What does the Architect of the Capitol plan as a substitute for the current emergency evacuation plan for Congress (not to mention the neighborhood) when Pennsylvania Avenue SE no longer is a straight shot to Maryland?

ANC Commissioner Ken Jarboe used to get mad at people who said they wanted to keep open the option of building a river crossing at the end of Massachusetts Avenue--Mr. Jarboe saw the difference between Massachusetts Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. Along the Massachusetts Avenue axis, the intersection of state-named diagonals is "supposed" to have parks (Lincoln Park, Stanton Park). Along the Pennsylvania Avenue axis, those kinds of intersections are *NOT* "supposed" to have parks (Seward "Square", and this intersection)--Pennsylvania Avenue SE is "supposed" to provide a thoroughfare to Maryland, unlike Massachusetts Avenue.

Who is this "Capitol Hill Town Square" task force? Who appointed them? When did DC get in the business of abdicating major decisions to developer groups who refuse to even respectfully consider the views of residents who don't happen to be developers?

Mr. Jarboe, the north side of this proposed project area is indeed a mix of town houses, and its residents resent being shut out of any discussions about the future of the pocket park that lies between our homes and busy Pennsylvania Avenue. Adding insult to injury, this self-appointed "Task Force" appointed someone to represent us D Street residents without asking a single resident of the block.

When this "Task Force" is ready to invite D Street residents and other residents of the neighborhood in, and is prepared to make their confidential discussions open and transparent, we will find out what aspects of their proposal we can support. But one thing we already know. Every household on D Street joined the Eastern Market Metro Community Organization (EMMCA) because every household has been shut out of the process and has had a "representative" imposed on us.

Residents are ready to talk. Is the "Task Force"?

by EMMCA Member on Jul 30, 2008 8:13 pm • linkreport

The City's circles and squares have all been modified over time. Think Thomas Circle, which though drawn as a circle was converted into an ellipse and only recently re-rounded. Or think Logan Circle, the streets around which were widened at the expense of "public parking". Even Dupont has an underpass, though I think that contributed to the decline and near death of Connecticut Ave as a premier shopping district. Why bury the Whitehurst when Connecticut Ave tempts?

The point being, there's no real reason why that tempting rectangle couldn't be unified, as is MVS. It's just a money question. Think maybe a TIF would do it?

by Hoping and wishing on Jul 30, 2008 8:57 pm • linkreport

My two cents: they should build a very small, fenced playground near the Eastern Market subway entrance so small kiddies can play while waiting for their moms and/or dads to come home from work.

by BEmama on Jul 30, 2008 9:50 pm • linkreport

The depressed segment of Connecticut Avenue north of DuPont Circle should be lidded.

Has that ever been proposed?

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 30, 2008 10:12 pm • linkreport

Douglas Willinger - I've been up there a bit recently, and always wondered why that flat part of the tunnel isn't covered.

Wikipedia says this about the tunnel:

In 1949, a traffic tunnel for was constructed as part of the now-defunct Capital Transit streetcar project. The streetcar system featured an underground station beneath the circle to help alleviate traffic by allowing trams and vehicles traveling along Connecticut Avenue to pass through unimpeded.[5] When streetcar service ended in 1962, the entrances to underground station were filled in and paved over, leaving only the traffic tunnel. In 1995, developer Geary Simon renovated the streetcar station as a food court called "Dupont Down Under"; the project ultimately failed, and was shut down a year later.[6]

In 2007, plans circulated to transform the underground area into a number of adult clubs, possibly to replace several gay bars that were forced out by the building of the Nationals Park baseball stadium. However, opposition from the community largely stalled any further planning, and the space remains unused.[7] The Dupont Circle Metro Station is completely separate from the abandoned underground streetcar station; Metrorail trains operate nearly 200 feet underground, far deeper than the original streetcars.[8]

by Squalish on Jul 31, 2008 12:14 am • linkreport

EMMCA Member: There's no distinction in early drawings of DC between Stanton, Seward, etc. For example, see this city plan from 1904. Stanton and Lincoln are already named and the ones along Penn. are "reservations", but the plan shows no distinction about whether roads run through or not. This map from 1806 shows no distinction either, and doesn't specify parks or anything else inside the squares, probably because they were just open spaces of dirt at the time, DC's roads not having yet been paved.

As for process, it doesn't appear any decisions have been made. I encourage you to attend the public meeting on September 24th, which is all about hearing from the community.

Squalish: I think Willinger is talking about the portion of the Connecticut Avenue underpass between Q Street and Dupont Circle, where it is open above. The old streetcar tunnels are covered over and always have been; the only sign of them is the closed entrance stairways around the circle.

by David Alpert on Jul 31, 2008 12:44 am • linkreport

Response to David Albert: 1806, 1904--that's so five minutes ago. Welcome to 21st Century Capitol Hill, where slapping a park athwart Pennsylvania Avenue would have huge implications for traffic, public safety and the flavor of the neighborhood. Maybe that's the right thing to do, maybe not. But it's certainly a stretch to simply dismiss our uninterrupted Pennsylvania Avenue with "It wasn't supposed to be this way." Given all that has grown up around this intersection since 1904, let's *discuss* whether such a dramatic change is the right way to go.

The lack of honest discussion is where my objection arises. The self-appointed "Task Force" in charge of pushing this plan through has 11 members--9 of whom are developers. When we asked in May, "Where can a person see some sort of description or early sketch of the overall Capitol Hill Town Square plan?" the architect hired by the developer declined to respond, "Task Force" member Dick Wolf declined to respond, and "Task Force" chair Tip Tipton (and the person he appointed to represent the interests of residents like us on the "Task Force") claimed no information would be available for us before the end of the year. Now this.

That does not smack of an open, honest and transparent process or one that will fulfill the promise of "extensive and deep community involvement in the planning process." If the "Task Force" makes an effort to be more truthful with residents at the September 24 meeting, we'll see what we can support in their plans. Until then, the process stinks.

PS to ANC Member Jarboe: I *don't* consider the Carnegie library merely another "commercial" lot to be developed, I consider it the jewel of the neighborhood, and I would not like to see the same developers who were thwarted five years ago when they tried to empty its books into the Old Naval Hospital (so they could get their hands on the library building) get their way now. You are a "Task Force" member, Mr. Jarboe. Can you tell us what the "Task Force" intends to do with our beautiful Carnegie library, or is that a secret until September 24 (or beyond)?

by EMMCA Member on Jul 31, 2008 1:23 am • linkreport

Douglas, are you talking about the one block between the circle and Q? I think that would be a great idea. What would you put there?

As for DuPont Downunder, I've proposed turning one half of the trolley station into a bike station (pardon the self promotion)

http://washcycle.typepad.com/home/2006/06/got_any_other_b.html

by washcycle on Jul 31, 2008 8:28 am • linkreport

I think unifying the square is a definite possibility. In fact, most of the day, and especially on weekends, Penn Ave is way undercapacity. I see this every day. Plus, traffic could definitely use a little slowing down. Cars tend to use the road like a freeway, which it is not. To divert around a unified square wouldn't necessarily change travel time that much. I also remind commuters that you can use Metro to come in from Maryland. Others can find alternate routes if they don't like an extra couple minutes around the square.

by Neb on Jul 31, 2008 10:38 am • linkreport

EMMCA,

first, why isn't it EMMCO?

Second, finding fault with the process is different than finding fault with the design. You bring up very good points about fire trucks and evacuations in your first post. I'd stick with those.

Third, your group is new. At the meeting someone pointed out that you were "just formed". Doesn't is seem reasonable that you might have been left out due to ignorance of your existence and not a shadowy conspiracy?

by VC on Jul 31, 2008 11:04 am • linkreport

As a resident who lives one block off of the Eastern Market metro, I too am appalled that I was never invited to discuss these radical changes to our neighborhod. I also fail to see why we need a fully connected "Town Square" at the Metro plaza. I am all for adding more trees/greenery, less concrete to the triangles as they currently exist. But anyone who actually lives in the area will tell you that the numerous parks that already exist in the area, the farmer's market, Barracks Row, and the shops along Penn Ave all create plenty of communal space to meet up with other community members. L'Enfant may have had something entirely different planned for the plaza but as of 2008, the residential and commercial areas are firmly established. Screwing around with a perfectly good--a very good!--thing when there are so many areas of DC that are in desperate need of beautification (try walking six or seven blocks east of Eastern Market) seems ludicrous to me.

by C on Jul 31, 2008 11:11 am • linkreport

I like the idea of the unified square, but am picturing light rail on Penn Ave sometime in the future, and think that blocking that intersection would be a bad idea.

by DG-rad on Jul 31, 2008 12:58 pm • linkreport

It's EMMCA, not EMMCO, because of my fat fingers--the complete name is Eastern Market Metro Community Association. (*NOT* "Organization" as I mistyped. Sorry!)

We weren't left out because we are new. We are newly formed because we are being left out of the process.

As noted above, (1.) we had questions, (2.) the "Task Force" members either refused to give us any answers or gave us disingenuous responses designed to put us off, (3.) we were represented to elected officials as being "on board" when we are not, and then (4.) we were told our views were to represented on the "Task Force" by someone whose opinions are antithetical to the unanimous views of residents of every household on the north side of the park.

That's why we are new. Within 36 hours of having this fake "D Street Residents' Representative" foisted on us, every single household on the block joined together to make sure our voices are heard, through EMMCA. If there is going to be a D Street Residents' Representative on the "Task Force," let it be a D Street Resident.

There are lots of other organizations that are *NOT* new that should have been consulted before this: Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization, which includes Hine; CAG, which has been serving the community from the Carriage House at the southeast corner of the project area for 17 years; Friendship House directly behind the library; Friends of Southeast Library; Capitol Hill Garden Club; Sports on the Hill; to name a few. None have been contacted by the "Task Force," which seems to be a self-appointed group that only talks to itself. When "Task Force" members start really, honestly talking to all residents and all community organizations and seeking input, there is a wonderful conversation we can have.

Until then, this feels like something some developers plan to ram down our throats.

Let's talk!

by EMMCA Member on Jul 31, 2008 1:32 pm • linkreport

Haven't there been two congressional earmarks, totaling over $1 million, aimed at sprucing up the EM metro plaza? Who is sitting on the money?

EMMCA, reading between the lines, I would surmise that you live on D St SE and are worried about your triangular buffer against the Penn Ave traffic, right? Worried about all those MD cars passing right in front of your doorstep? That's entirely justifiable; but be open about it, you'll be taken more seriously. Talking about fire routes and the consultation rights of the Capitol Hill garden club seems quite disingenuous to me.

by MS on Jul 31, 2008 3:31 pm • linkreport

NIMBY alert.

by SG on Jul 31, 2008 4:15 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure the particular idea I suggest below is a good one, but I think thinking an extra layer beyond the norm might be useful.

There's no doubting that, at present, it's a significant commuter route, and closing it entirely would severely disrupt peak-direction flows. You can't eliminate (at least overnight) the housing of a million people who live east of there in Maryland who don't have a lot of great transit options who need to get downtown.

As an example of a hybrid (perhaps short-term, 20-year) solution, what about creating a complete rectangular "square" with one-way drives around it like some of the others, with a two-lane paver diagonal that can carry Pennsylvania Avenue through the center in only the peak direction at only peak times. So, for six hours a weekday (three one way, three the other), traffic could go through. The remaining time, it could serve as a brick-like hardscape 20-foot plaza through the square that would hardly be ruinous.

by Joey on Jul 31, 2008 4:21 pm • linkreport

Re: my last thought . . . this would be akin to several of the Central Park crosstown drives which operate only on weekdays.

by Joey on Jul 31, 2008 4:24 pm • linkreport

Joey: Interesting idea.

Just for precision: the Central Park crosstown drives are open all the time. It's the loop drive which is only open on weekdays (and now, only half of it in the morning peak and the other half in the evening peak).

I'd like to see traffic numbers first, though. Eliminating a roadway usually causes about half the traffic to just evaporate. There's excess Metro capacity on the eastern end of the Blue and Orange Lines. And we're widening the 11th Street bridges a bridge and adding a freeway ramp to 295 which will add capacity coming into the city from that same direction. I can't help but wonder, would the new ramp add enough capacity to handle the remaining traffic, while Metro take the other half, such that we could reduce the through capacity in that square somewhat while routing some of the traffic around the perimeter? And would that be enough not to ruin the experience at EMMCA's front yard?

Anyway, that's what the transportation consultants are presumably trying to figure out.

by David Alpert on Jul 31, 2008 4:31 pm • linkreport

Well, I don't mean the sunken Central Park "transverses" which are sort of mini freeways, are always open, and which don't intersect the park road network at all. But in addition to the loop roads, there's a crossing "drive" or two that are at-grade, and which, at least when I lived there, were only open at certain times.

by Joey on Jul 31, 2008 4:58 pm • linkreport

David - I think you're exactly on the right trail.

I think its important to note that we're really only talking about peak times, at least for dealing with traffic.

During the peak, I think its more realistic to say that a quarter of traffic will simply disappear (i.e. people will not drive on the route or any other route because they will take metro, or just avoid any route.) Another quarter will find alternate routes. The remaining half (at least) will be fine on the perimeter.

As for off-peak -- the general environment of the area will improve as a public space. More people will want to go there during off-peak times. Traffic might actually increase from people driving to visit a more pleasant area. Business improves, a neighborhood improves even more.

by neb on Jul 31, 2008 9:27 pm • linkreport

Washcycle:

Yes, the areas northward from the circle to Q Street, and perhaps a few feet further north as permitted by the rising grade, for more open public, primarily if not exclusively for pedestrians. If some of the space was used to widen the above ground Connecticut Avenue, perhaps some of that space could be used for facilitating "kiss and ride" space the adjoining WMATA subway entrance.

I like your idea for converting DuPont Under -- the old trolley tunnel -- into a bike facility- but how would access be provided? Would bikes have to go up and down stairs, via an elevator, or perhaps reopen the northern extension of the trolley facility which had its own portal north of that for the portal for vehicular traffic?

BTW- the site that your site links to is incorrect about vehicular tunnel coming later, as the original plan included both.

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 31, 2008 11:25 pm • linkreport

Squalish- Does anyone have a photo or a schematic of the northern closed segment of the trolley tunnel north of DuPont Circle?

I could see a lid treatment to the depressed segment of North Capitol Street at and near where it passes beneath Rhode Island Avenue.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 1, 2008 12:45 am • linkreport

Douglas,

Probably up and down the stairs. A small modification could be made to add a bike trough. it's not ideal, but thousands of New Yorkers carry their bikes up and down stairs to get to the subway every day. Opening one of the tunnels and using that to ride in would be great too.

by washcycle on Aug 1, 2008 2:06 pm • linkreport

Let's find the schematic of the closed segments of the trolley tunnel -- their should be such at the north and south ends -- and visualize that for the underground bicycle station!

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 1, 2008 6:44 pm • linkreport

I'm in. Anyone know where to get that?

We'd also have to convince the present owners to sell to the District or perhaps a BID and then get them to pay for it. But let's start with the schematics.

by washcycle on Aug 1, 2008 6:47 pm • linkreport

Cool!

IIRC Katheryn Schneider Smith's book has a photo of the northern portals (vehicular and trolley).

http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2007/08/classic-classism-kathryn-schneider.html

I talk about this part of her book at Cosmobile, but need to find the book to scan the page with that photo.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 1, 2008 6:53 pm • linkreport

Also, IIRC, there is a book about DC planning historu with a photo of some DC infrastructure official -- Mr. Whitehurst? -- with a model of the DuPont Circle Underpass project, as his baby.

I LIKE that project, park covered, underground tunnels, and multi-model.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 1, 2008 6:56 pm • linkreport

Any ideas what part of the Circle is actually physically lidded over, other than the tunnel? I've seen it described as "huge, way bigger than all the gay bars combined", but little else.

Is it half of the entire Dupont Circle?

I'd like to see a light lid over the Dupont to Q Street Trench, with picnic tables, benches, and a large bike transit center on top. Then, put a multiline bus stop where it was meant to be, under the Circle - there are approximately a dozen public bus lines and several private ones nearby that could use it.

by Squalish on Aug 1, 2008 7:24 pm • linkreport

It's the western half of the circle.

by Douglas Willinger on Aug 1, 2008 9:25 pm • linkreport

I live near the Eastern Market Metro Plaza and always laugh when I hear that people want to expand the parks, create more green space and design the sidewalks with beautiful brik pavers. DC can't maintain the parks it currently has. They are ugly, full of litter, and completely unmaintained. If the city can't maintain what it has, why would they want to build more to "not maintain". The little triangle at the end of barracks row is missing lots of bricks and is starting to become full of weeds. I don't like the city spending my tax money on big ticket items that don't get maintained and soon look unsightly. I personnally would rather see a big, beautiful building than a dirty, unmaintained park.

Regardind the "Old Naval" hospital, bids were asked for and the project was awarded to the winning bid for the "Hill Center". Great! That was a year ago and nothing has happened because there is confusion over the property title for the Old Naval Hospital. I am surprised the city does not get sued by those who spent lots of money creating designs for the bidding process.

Lets maintain what we have. If we can do that, then expand.

by Shane on Sep 8, 2008 2:11 pm • linkreport

Wow Shane.

Because the government is incompetent, we should just maintain it as such rather then pursue better infrastructure and better government.

That's SOME standard!

by Douglas Willinger on Sep 8, 2008 2:27 pm • linkreport

Most of the parks are owned and maintained by the US NPS and so it's really out of the city's hands to fix that problem. Nonetheless most parks (Lincoln, Garfield, Marion, Rock Creek, C&O, etc...) are not ugly or full of litter or completely unmaintained. Which Parks are you thinking of?

by VC on Sep 8, 2008 4:21 pm • linkreport

I would like to see the government better maintain what they have instead of taking on more. They simply can't handle the maintenance.

by Shane on Sep 8, 2008 4:50 pm • linkreport

here's a story about a man who gave himself the responsibility to help maintain DC's basketball courts and his actions made a lasting effect. There's even current conctact info in the article if you want to report a missing net.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=35838

by Bianchi on Sep 8, 2008 4:59 pm • linkreport

If that is the case, it is what the city should focus on initially...getting control of these areas. If they can get control of these areas and show that they have the capacity to maintain them, then they can move on to very large projects. One ugle park near me is a little triangular park at the corner of Pennsylvania and 10th. It could be that the US NPS owns it, but it is an eyesore. I'd rather have a building there than have to look at that horribly maintained park. There are so many badly maintained public areas, I can't even count them. I don't know who owns them all, but if the city can negotiate with the park service on the "Town Square", they should be able to negotiate with them on other areas that are unsightly.

by Shane on Sep 8, 2008 5:13 pm • linkreport

Shane, I know the spot you're talking of. It isn't really fair to call that a park, now is it? Still, the grass is cut, the sidewalks are safe and the bench is functional. I'm not sure why you think it's an eyesore. What kind of maintenance does that green space need?

by VC on Sep 8, 2008 5:28 pm • linkreport

It is certainly not Rock Creek Park, but yes, it is green space with a bench, shrubs, trees, etc. If you think this is a nicely maintained area that people would want to spend time in, then I'm really worried. It is currently a place where people go to let their dogs go the bathroom. If the new "Town Square" was maintained like this little park, then I don't want it. If you think maintenance consists of cutting grass, then you and I have a different definition of the maintenance required for a nice public space. I think you have hit on something. I predict that if the "Town Square" were built, it would be maintained exactly like this little green space. I urge everyone to go to the little park bench here at 10th and Pennsylvania and enjoy. It would not be a place I would want to spend time.

by Shane on Sep 8, 2008 5:37 pm • linkreport

Shane,

Your argument is that DC should not build any new parks until they start to maintain the ones they have. You have held out the green space at 10th and Penn as an example of such a poorly maintained space. But, you can site no actual examples of "poor maintenance." The only evidence that you seem to have is that you would not want to spend time there.

But, this triangle is hardly comparable to a real park. None of the most common uses of DC Parks - namely playgrounds, athletics and unofficial dog parks - are suitable to such a small space. With it's location along a busy thoroughfare it is also not suitable as a place to lay in the grass and get away from it all. It is similar in this aspect to the four disjointed pieces of Capitol Hill Town Square and so you have really made an argument FOR the square.

A cursory review of the triangle in question, shows cut grass, trimmed hedges, an emptied garbage can and I found someone sitting on the bench enjoying the day. If people walk their dogs to this park to use the bathroom, isn't it still serving a public function? It is by all measures a well-maintained space, but people may not want to spend a lot of time there due to the small size and location. Still, even a green space that goes unused can still have value. No one hangs out in a tree box either, but those still have value.

You have really failed, in my opinion, to make the case that they are not maintaining their existing parks. What is your definition of maintenance if it is not maintaining the grounds? Specifically enumerate the ways in which this park, or others are not maintained or please quit making these unsubstantiated claims.

by VC on Sep 9, 2008 11:27 am • linkreport

I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. Another example is the triangle in front of Dunkin Donuts. Lots of missing bricks and grass starting to grow between those that remain. The sidewalk in front of 801 Pennsylvania Avenue has missing bricks with a bunch of black tar covering the hole. It has been like that for ages. I walk past it every day. I walk up and down Barracks Row daily and see that few of the planter areas around the trees have flowers in them. They are mostly empty.

The current grassy areas around Eastern Market Metro are not well maintained in my opinion. I define maintenance to include flowers in the flower beds. Why else would they exist? The flower beds are neglected, the trees are untrimed, etc. There are some fundamental issues that need to be addressed before the city dumps tons of money on the creation of new open spaces. Have the trees on 8th every been trimmed? Believe me, I live near Eastern Market and there is nothing I would like more than a beautiful Town Center. It would benefit me. I just don't believe the city would take care of it once it is built.

by Shane on Sep 9, 2008 3:17 pm • linkreport

Shane,

Are you looking to practice your putting game on the grass there?

The maintenance isn't great - I don't want to go out of my way to defend it - but it's not nearly as bad as you imply. Not even close.

by Alex B. on Sep 9, 2008 3:33 pm • linkreport

The maintenance isn't great...we agree. The city should fix that first, then spend millions on new construction.

by Shane on Sep 9, 2008 3:41 pm • linkreport

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